Survival games come in a variety of flavors, some realistic, others not so much, some focused almost entirely on survival, others with added elements of fantasy or horror, like mythical or not-so-mythical creatures out for your flesh and blood. Few games are focused almost entirely on taming nature and making it play by your rules.
One of them is Stranded Deep, a game under development by Australian studio Beam Team Games.
A Little Backstory
The backstory of your character on Stranded Deep is very thin: you are a person sitting on a private jet in flight over the high seas when something happens: the plane crashes, and you find yourself stranded with nothing but an inflatable lifeboat to save your skin. The place you find yourself in is far from the outside world with convenience stores, radios, smartphones with Crypto Thrills online casino games - all you have is your survival watch and your determination to help you survive.
You row your life raft to the shore of a nearby island - it’s tiny, with barely enough room for a few coconut palms, rocks, and lobsters. This is what you have at hand, along with your skills, to help you not only survive but thrive - and escape the secluded archipelago you’re stranded in.
In the first stages of the game, all you can think of is surviving for another day. And for this, you’ll need the basics: food, water, and shelter. The game’s tutorial guides you through these aspects: it shows you how to craft basic tools, hunt down a crab, drink the water in a coconut, and build things that take care of your bare necessities - water, and shelter. To help you know what your on-screen survivor needs, you can consult your survival watch: it shows the time, your stats (whether you need food, water, and shade, and whether you are infected or poisoned - it can happen) as well as your skill levels in various disciplines like harvesting, crafting, and such.
In time, you’ll figure out how to do more complex things, like build a house and furnish it, build various tools - like a tanning rack to craft leather and a loom to craft cloth from fibrous leaves you can harvest on your island. Later, you learn how to hunt bigger animals that you stumble upon on bigger islands - giant crabs and hogs - or catch (bigger) fish, even sharks. You can also learn how to preserve food (if you don’t, it goes bad in time).
The world in which you’re supposed to survive is not infinite… but it’s big enough, especially at the beginning of the game, when all you can use to move between islands is a life raft powered by your own two arms. There are dozens of procedurally generated islands big and small on the map - and the “Cartographer” feature allows you to add more, and customize them as you please.
Most islands are more or less the same - small atolls with palm trees and little to no elevation, and slightly larger islands with a few cliffs and pine trees. And there are a few locations (marked red on the map) that stand out, all of them important for your endgame: escape the secluded archipelago and return to the world with running water, casino games, and fast food - in short, civilization.
All islands have at least a couple of shipwrecks around them. These have many useful items, from fishing spears and hammers to engine parts and jerry cans that you’ll need in your efforts to survive and leave. Many of these are underwater - your dives need to be calculated carefully so you won’t drown while gathering useful stuff. Sometimes, you’ll find more items than you can carry - you’ll have to decide what to take and what to leave behind for later. The same wrecks also hide items that you can use to build better rafts that make your travels between them faster and easier.
As I mentioned above, you start out with an inflatable survival raft that makes a pretty slow means of transportation between islands. Of course, you can build yourself better means of transportation later on.
As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to build yourself a variety of rafts. These can be powered by wind or a boat motor later on - of course, for the latter, you’ll also need to build a fuel sill. Even later, you’ll also be able to build a gyrocopter so you can travel between islands in style.
Food and Farming
Aside from hunting and gathering, farming is also an option in Stranded Deep. You can construct farm plots, and grow various plants - fruit, potatoes, aloe, and yucca - that you can use to craft various items, and make fuel. As you might expect, you need to water your plants if you want them to grow.
As for the protein, you can smoke the meat you obtain from various animals so you can store them in the long run - useful when you plan to dedicate your time and energy to escaping your tropical paradise.
Your goal in Stranded Deep is not only to survive but also to escape. To this end, you’ll first need to find the means to your escape: the wreck of an aircraft carrier that still has a (more or less usable) plane on it. But don’t think that escaping will be easy - you’ll have some obstacles to overcome first.
The plane has to be filled with food, water, and fuel - this is the easy part. But you’ll also need to find some spare parts to repair it - and for this, you’ll need to confront three sea monsters carefully guarding their treasure: a monster eel, a giant squid, and a massive megalodon!
Like all boss fights, these will be challenging - especially when all you can use is the weapons you craft for yourself.
And when you’re done with all of the above, you’ll be able to finally return to civilization.
Stranded Deep is not an action-packed game. Your habitat has limited resources, so at times you have to visit neighboring islands to harvest more. Traveling between islands is usually pretty slow, especially at the beginning of the game. So, if you’re into a laid-back gaming style, you’ll probably love it.
The game is realistic enough for it to be challenging, especially for those with little experience in survival-focused games. The good news is that it has a “creative” mode where pretty much every danger is eliminated: the animals don’t attack and don’t fight back, you can’t drown, you can’t get a sunburn, you can’t be poisoned, and there’s no fall damage either.
Perhaps this is why the game can be a bit boring at times. Rowing across the open waters between two islands on your life raft is tedious and slow - this improves later in the game, of course.
Survival games are not for everyone - and Stranded Deep is not an exception. If you enjoy exploring uninhabited islands, crafting everything from the very basics up, hunting and fishing - this game will give you countless hours of fun. While at times it may feel a bit unfinished - it’s still in “early access” on PC - it will offer an overall great experience.
It can be challenging at times and repetitive at others - just like real life, if you think of it.